Duhamel and Radford second after short program at world championships

SAITAMA, Japan – Meaghan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., will chase for gold at the ISU Word Figure Skating Championships after placing second in Wednesday’s pairs short program.

Olympic bronze medallists Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany hold a slim lead at 79.02 just ahead of the Canadian champions at 77.01 – a season’s best score. Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia are third at 76.15. Less than eight points separate the top-five.

‘’It was amazing,’’ said Radford, who took world bronze last year with Duhamel. ‘’We wish we could skate like that all the time. Most of this season, we tried so hard to please everyone and fight for every point. Today we were a lot more relaxed and it’s put us in a perfect spot heading into the free skate.’’

At the Games, Duhamel and Radford helped Canada to the silver medal in the team event and were seventh in pairs.

‘’We came back from the Olympics feeling like we had achieved all our goals,’’ said Duhamel. ‘’We feel very settled but from this point on we’re going to be competing for ourselves and not worry about every little point.’’

Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto are sixth at 69.31 and Paige Lawrence of Kennedy, Sask.,  and Rudi Swiegers of Kipling, Sask.,  12th at 59.84. There were 23 entries. All three Canadian pairs competed at the Winter Olympics last month in Sochi.

Moore-Towers and Moscovitch also contributed to Canada’s team silver at the Olympics and were fifth in pairs. On Wednesday, the highlight was achieving a level three death spiral for the first time.

‘’We’ve worked hard all season to get our death spiral to a level three,’’ said Moore-Towers. ‘’It was nice to skate the program clean one last time. All those run-throughs paid off.’’

‘’I felt great, calm and confident,’’ added Moscovitch. ‘’The skate felt good. Our goal is to skate to clean programs and we are half-way there.’’

For Lawrence and Swiegers it is another valuable international experience.

‘’We’ve never been to the worlds before so it was an exciting prospect for us,’’ said Lawrence. ‘’It’s something we’ve been working towards for a long time now. In the free skate we want to carry the crowd’s interest from beginning to end and take them on a little journey.’’

In men’s competition, Tatsuki Machida of Japan stands first after the short program at 98.21 with Javier Fernandez of Spain second at 96.42 and Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan third at 91.24.

Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., is 15th, world junior champion Nam Nguyen of Toronto 16th and Elladj Balde of Pierrefonds, Que., 22nd.

‘’ I was feeling good going into the opening combination,’’ said Reynolds. ‘’ It was a little bit shaky and I just over-rotated it. I fought through the performance and I was fairly pleased. I’m going to do the best I can in the free and hopefully fight my way back up to the top ten.’’

Competition continues Thursday with the pairs free skate and women’s short program.

Full results: http://www.isuresults.com/results/wc2014/index.htm

Louis Daignault

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